Sustainable tourism aims to connect recreational activities with ecological and social requirements.
In order to address this challenge, the diversification of existing businesses can increase the competitiveness of mountain areas while allowing the enhancement and preservation of local resources and interaction with the territory and communities living in these areas.
The Southern Romanian Carpathians is being examined as part of the Horizon 2020 project MOVING (MOuntain Valorisation through INterconnectedness and Green growth). The Zărnești – Piatra Craiului Mountains region is a high-quality tourist destination which is widely considered as one of the “jewels in the crown” of the Southern Romanian Carpathians. Unfortunately, the area is under pressure from growing visitor numbers and inappropriate patterns of development and there is an urgent need to develop more sustainable, lower impact forms of tourism whilst also maintaining the valuable income provided for the local community. Ecotourism is very well-suited to the sustainable development of the local economy of the area and the Zărneşti – Piatra Craiului region is one of 10 ‘eco-destinations’ promoted by the Association of Ecotourism in Romania (AER).
Mountain Altruist is a young company that provides attractive tour packages in Darjeeling, a very well-known tourist destination in the Lesser Himalayan region. Their goal is to enhance the awareness of ecotourism to citizens living in this area and at the same time educate travellers from around the world about sustainable and eco-friendly practices. Recycling, reducing waste consumption and stopping the burning of fossil fuels are a part of their plan: they are committed to using alternative sources of energy, fuel-efficient vehicles and to eliminating the use of plastics during their activities. This project has also been successful in helping local communities by providing them job opportunities to improve their condition and well-being.
“Casa della Montagna”, the first Bed and Bike in Calabria, expands the concept of Bed and Breakfast, transporting and adapting it to the varied world of outdoor activities in natural parks and protected areas. Located in Lorica in the heart of the Sila National Park, a virtuous circuit of places where accommodation is in a perspective of widespread hospitality, connected by a dense network of over 600 km of trails. The innovative Bed & Bike concept stemmed from a desire to combine sport and nature with the relaxation of a stay in the mountains. Culture, sport and nature for innovative and sustainable mountain development. The aims of the project are to valorize the Sila Park, to de-seasonalise the tourist offer and at the same time redevelop the uninhabited houses in the area. The services offered are diversified: it is possible to rent equipment for bicycle excursions, carry out guided nature tours and wine and food routes.
Andean Lodges is a Cusco-based company, founded in 2006 in association with the people of the peasant communities of Chillca and Osefina. Their goal is to offer unique trekking and lodging experiences on the Apu Ausangate Route, with a focus on community-based rural tourism, and to promote the development of these communities. The social vision is to create alternatives for sustainable development that are inclusive, and in balance with the cultural perspectives of the Andean original communities. To those ends, Andean Lodges has been working intensively for the preservation and safeguarding of the natural wealth, ancient knowledge and traditional ways of life of these communities.
Rachel Creaney is a Social Scientist at the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Department, James Hutton Institute, Scotland. She is a qualitative researcher working on the European funded project MOVING which explores mountain-related value chains across Europe to contribute to the resilience and sustainability of mountain areas to climate change. She is also leading the youth engagement aspect of the project. Broadly, Rachel Creaney is interested in the use of creative methods to explore people’s everyday experiences in various innovations in rural areas, be this in relation to housing, technology, healthcare, farming or tourism.